Internalized Racial Oppression Scale (IROS)

The Internalized Racial Oppression Scale (IROS) is a 36 item measure of the degree to which racial oppression is internalized and replicated by Black individuals in the United States. The scale has five domains: Belief in the Biased Representation of History (BRH), Devaluation of the African Worldview and Motifs (DAW), Alteration of Physical Appearance (APA), Internalization of Negative Stereotypes (INS), and Hair Change (HC).


Geographies Tested: United States of America

Populations Included: Female, Male

Age Range: Adolescents, Adults


1. There were no institutions of higher learning in Africa
2. Earlier Egyptians were either White or Arabic
3. The earliest civilizations were in Africa
4. The first mathematicians and scientists were European
5. There were universities and other learning centers in Africa more than 2,000 years ago
6. There were Africans in the Americas prior to Europeans
7. Cannibalism was widely practiced in Africa
8. I do not tend to associate myself with an African heritage
9. I identify with African values and beliefs
10. I value respecting elders in my community
11. Being a part of family celebrations is not important
12. I would never date someone with a natural or an Afro hairstyle
13. I hesitate to do business with Black-owned companies because of their mismanagement
14. I don’t attend any cultural programs with African-centered values
15. Harmony and balance are important values in my life
16. I wish my nose were narrower
17. Having full lips is not attractive to me
18. I wish my skin was lighter than it is now
19. I would like a partner with lighter skin, to ensure that my children will have lighter skin
20. African people have no written history
21. It is fine to use skin care products to lighten skin color
22. Lighter skin is more attractive
23. It is okay for Black people to change their appearance through surgery
24. I wish I looked more White
25. Black women are controlling
26. Black women are confrontational
27. Money management is something that Black people cannot do
28. Black men are irresponsible
29. Most criminals are Black men
30. Black people are lazy
31. Most Black people are on welfare
32. It is okay to straighten or relax my hair
33. I prefer my hair to be natural
34. I like it when my partner wears hisher hair natural
35. I texturize my hair
36. Straight hair is better than my natural hair texture

Response Options:
5-point Likert scale
Strongly disagree - 1
Strongly agree - 5

Scoring Procedures

Mean scores are used to calculate a total scale score and sub-scale scores for each respondent. Scale scores range from 1 to 5, with higher scores indicating a higher degree of internalized racial oppression.

Original Citation

Bailey, T. K. M., Chung, Y. B., Williams, W. S., Singh, A. A., & Terrell, H. K. (2011). Development and validation of the Internalized Racial Oppression Scale for Black individuals. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(4), 481.

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Scoring breakdown

Formative Research

Qualitative Research

Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework

Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








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